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The Garden Writers Association

 

Last Update 06/03/08

Hurricane Resistant Trees for Your Florida Landscape


Slow Growing Trees Stand a Better Chance Against Hurricanes

The hurricanes of the past few years have taught us a lot about what trees will and will-not stand-up to hurricane force winds. Below is list of trees suggested for planting in hurricane susceptible areas and those recommended to be removed before the next category storm crosses the state. This list is not exhaustive and is culled from various lists of recommended storm resistant trees for Florida and the south as well as personal observation. Certain wind, placement, soil and pruning factors must be taken into account in cases where this list conflicts with other published lists and personal observation.

 

Native trees, particularly those with wide spreading branches, low centers of gravity, strong deep penetrating root systems, and small leaf size seem to hold up better in tropical storms especially if they are found growing in mixed groves of trees. Lone growing solitary specimens have less wind resistance than massed trees.

To prepare your trees for a category storm remove weak and diseased trees as well as any large trees within one hundred feet of your home or car. Prune and thin trees to give them a lower center of gravity and to lessen leaf mass. Sculpting a tree will allow wind resistance to increase. Lightly fertilize annually and be sure that all trees are growing where their root zones are covered with good healthy soil. Watering during drought periods will allow the roots of the plants to maintain their turgor and their holding power. Plant trees in groves and add ample shrub mass to deflect wind upwards. This places what is called the "point of overturning pressure" farther from the root zone into the area of the tree with more flexibility. Remove non-native over story vegetation, keeping in mind that canopy trees in any community are composed of native trees that have withstood coastal storms in the past and will do so in the future.

Further Reading: Wind and Trees: Surveys of Tree Damage in the Florida Panhandle after Hurricanes Erin and Opal; Storm Damage, Forest Health Guide for Georgia Foresters

Recommended Trees

Rational

 Trees Not Recommended

Rational

Foxtail Palm Wind Resistance Queen Palm Blows Over -- shallow roots
Solitaire Palm Wind Resistance Schefflera Brittle Wood
Cabbage (Sable) Palm Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Laurel Oak Brittle Wood
Gumbo Limbo Wind Resistance Water Oak Brittle Wood
Paurotis Palm Tolerates Flooding Chinese Elm Brittle Wood
Coconut Palm Wind Resistance (remove coconuts)/Tolerates Flooding Camphor Tree Brittle Wood
Pitch Apple Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Golden Rain Tree Brittle Wood
Dahoon Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Silk Floss Tree Brittle Wood
Yaupon Holly Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Ear Leaf Acacia Brittle Wood
Screw Pine Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Tabebuia (yellow or pink) Brittle Wood/Blows Over -- shallow roots
Paradise Tree Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Norfolk Pine Brittle Wood/Blows Over -- shallow roots
Tibouchina Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Eucalyptus Brittle Wood
Cassia Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Silk Oak Brittle Wood
Geiger Tree Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Sea Hibiscus Brittle Wood
Bottlebrush Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Avocado Brittle Wood

 

Mexican Poinciana Wind Resistance Chinaberry Brittle Wood
Live Oak If given room for roots to grow, Do not plant in moist soils Seaside Mahoe Blows Over -- shallow roots
Sand Oak Wind Resistance Banyan/Ficus Blows Over -- shallow roots
Myrtle and Turkey Oak Wind Resistance Australian Pine Blows Over -- shallow roots
Red Oak Wind Resistance Citrus Trees Damaged by standing water
Slash and Long Leaf Pine Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Royal Poinciana Brittle Wood
Bald or Pine Cypress Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Shooting Star (Clerodendron) Brittle Wood/Blows Over -- shallow roots
Red and Silver Maple Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Carrotwood Brittle Wood
Crepe Myrtle Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Chinese Tallow (Popcorn) Tree Brittle Wood
Pigeon Plum Wind Resistance Washingtonia Palm Blows Over
Fiddlewood Wind Resistance Mahogany Brittle Wood
Ironwood Wind Resistance Black Olive Brittle Wood/Blows Over -- shallow roots
Sea Grape Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Live Oak* *Blows Over if not given adequate room to spread and if planted in moist soils
Weeping Podocarpus Wind Resistance Sand Pine Poor Wind Resistance
Winged Elm Wind Resistance Sweetgum Poor Wind Resistance
Magnolia Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding Carolina laurelcherry Poor Wind Resistance
Tulip Tree Wind Resistance Hong Kong Orchid Tree Poor Wind Resistance/Brittle Wood
American Holly Wind Resistance    
Sycamore Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding    
Buttonwood Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding    
Red Cedar Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding    
Royal Palm Wind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding    

 

  
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